Profile for K. Maric > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by K. Maric
Top Reviewer Ranking: 4,890,354
Helpful Votes: 2

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
K. Maric

Show:  
Page: 1
pixel
Natasha's Story
Natasha's Story
by Michael Nicholson
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great deed in a terrible time, 8 April 2013
This review is from: Natasha's Story (Hardcover)
Michael Nicholson is a British war correspondent who `smuggled' a nine-year-old Bosnian girl out of an orphanage during the height of the Siege of Sarajevo and took her back to England to live with his family. This is his tale of how he did it, and of the problems and rewards he and his wife faced in helping Natasha adapt to her new life after the traumas of her past.

While I found this book beautifully written and fascinating, especially the sections devoted to the war itself, I finished it feeling a little puzzled about Michael Nicholson's own motives and decision-making processes in becoming a war correspondent. I wanted to know more about how he views his profession and what value he places on it, given that the role of journalists during the siege of Sarajevo was particularly contentious. I also found his anti-Serb bias a bit extreme in places, especially when he paraphrases an `expert' anthropologist who apparently compared Serbs, in their savagery, to one of the most primitive and brutal tribes of the Amazon basin. That's a little one-sided when discussing a war in which all sides committed brutalities.

The movie 'Welcome to Sarajevo' is very loosely based on the events depicted in Natasha's Story.


Bridge Over The Drina
Bridge Over The Drina
by Ivo Andric
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.09

5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful, Nobel-Prize winning literature, 8 April 2013
This review is from: Bridge Over The Drina (Paperback)
This book, which won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961, is essentially the centuries-long tale of the Mehmed Pasha Bridge that today still spans the River Drina in the Bosnian town of Visegrad (after having been destroyed in WW1 and rebuilt). It is also, of course, the story of the people ― the Turks, Austrians, Serbs, Croats, Muslims and more ― who live and die on and around the bridge. The story begins with the bridge's construction in the sixteenth century when Visegrad was ruled by the Ottoman Turks and continues up until the events that precipitated World War One, and therefore provides a wide-ranging view of Bosnia's troubled, tumultuous history. Not only is this book heartbreaking and filled with richly fascinating characters, the translation into English from the original Serbo-Croat also reads beautifully. A wonderful novel.


Blue Helmets and Black Markets: The Business of Survival in the Siege of Sarajevo
Blue Helmets and Black Markets: The Business of Survival in the Siege of Sarajevo
by Peter Andreas
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but depressing, 8 April 2013
A deeply depressing but very important book that should be required reading for anyone interested in the Siege of Sarajevo. This book provides a `behind-the-scenes' view of the `backstage' events of the siege - the black marketeering, the prostitution rings (some of those young UN peacekeepers needed a good brothel to relax in, it seems, after a hard day's work keeping the peace), the people trafficking etc. So while most of Sarajevo's inhabitants cowered from the shells and endured starvation, Andreas' well-researched and detailed account shows how war profiteers on both sides of the siege lines made and broke deals with each other and, in the process, ended up becoming extremely rich.

Some of the criminal acts Andreas describes in this book were not only about money: he details, for example, the Sarajevo city officials' refusal to turn on an emergency water treatment system provided by a relief organization. The system would have provided the city's people with running water for at least part of the day, but it would also have meant an end to the heart-wrenching imagery of Sarajevans struggling to get water while the snipers fired down on them. And heart-wrenching imagery was a vital public relations tool in the city's struggle for international sympathy and support. In addition, the government agencies charged with delivering water throughout the besieged city received a fuel allocation, some of which they would sell off on the black market, so they too were adverse to the water treatment system becoming operational. Fascinating, eye-opening but depressing stuff.


Blood and Vengeance: One Family's Story of the War in Bosnia
Blood and Vengeance: One Family's Story of the War in Bosnia
by Chuck Sudetic
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars a fascinating, chilling, heartwrenching story, 8 April 2013
Chuck Sudetic has a family connection to this tale, because he is married to a Serbian woman from Belgrade whose sister married into a Bosnian Muslim family, the family of the title. Sudetic's story relates the Celik family's history from the beginnings of the twentieth century up until the fall of Srebrenica, during which the patriarch Huso Celik and his son-in-law Muhamed Halilovic disappeared, Muhamed probably being murdered on the same day his young wife gave birth to his son.

The book is based on extensive interviews with the surviving members of the Celik family as well as other inhabitants, Muslim and Serb, of this strife-torn eastern corner of Bosnia. Very readable and chilling, Blood and Vengeance details not only Serb atrocities against Muslims after the fall of Srebrenica, but also the preceding atrocities committed by Muslims against Serbs during the most recent war, and by Muslims and Ustase in the Second World War and earlier.


Balkan Ghosts (Vintage Departures)
Balkan Ghosts (Vintage Departures)
by R. Kaplan
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars the book that convinced Clinton not to get involved, 8 April 2013
According to the author's foreword (and various other reports), this was the book that convinced Bill Clinton there was no point in him allowing America to get involved in the war in Bosnia, because the whole conflagration was simply another manifestation of the endless ethnic rivalries described in Balkan Ghosts. Kaplan claims to be rather unhappy that his travel memoir was interpreted this way, and prefaces this edition with five of his newspaper articles that demonstrate his commitment to international involvement in enforcing peace in Bosnia.

The book itself has four parts. Part 1 covers parts of the former Yugoslavia (Croatia, Old Serbia and Albania, Macedonia and Belgrade). Note that, as Kaplan says in the foreword, he actually said very little about Bosnia in his book. Part 2, the part I found the most riveting, covers Romania, which Kaplan describes in turns as breathtakingly beautiful and gut-wrenchingly ugly, especially the post-industrial wastelands of eastern Romania. Part 3 details the complexities of Bulgaria's history. Part 4 describes Greece, with much attention paid to the astonishing double-life Andreas Papandreou, former Prime Minister of Greece and `the most original of Balkan ghosts', in Kaplan's words.

Overall, this book is richly evocative of the landscapes, architecture and people of the Balkans, both now and in the past. But if you want to learn more about the former Yugoslavia, I'd suggest you try some other books as well.


Endgame: The Betrayal and Fall of Srebrenica, Europe's Worst Massacre Since World War II
Endgame: The Betrayal and Fall of Srebrenica, Europe's Worst Massacre Since World War II
by David Rohde
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.67

5.0 out of 5 stars this will make you cry, 8 April 2013
Warning: I cried reading this book. In this incredibly thorough and detailed examination of the massacres that followed the fall of Srebrenica, Pulitzer-prize winning author David Rohde relies on interviews with participants in and survivors of the massacres, as well as the Dutch UN peacekeepers who watched much of the atrocity unfold while being powerless to stop it. Rohde devotes a chapter to the events of each day from Thursday July 6 to Sunday July 16, in other words from the immediate lead-up to the town's fall and the subsequent days of slaughter. There is also a chapter covering the aftermath of the killings and an epilogue in which the author examines (but finds no evidence for) some of the conspiracy theories regarding the fall of Srebrenica ― theories provided fertile ground by inexplicable events like the Bosnian Army's removal of Srebrenica's military commander, Naser Orić, in the weeks before the town's fall. And, as Rohde describes so very well, the total impotence and incompetence of the UN forces (right up to the high command) comes across as so ridiculous it's no wonder some conspiracy theorists believe the UN actually wanted or even planned Srebrenica's fall.

One of the participants Rohde interviews in Endgame is a Bosnian Croat soldier named Drazen Erdemović, a young man who fought at various times on all three sides in the Yugoslav wars. Erdemovic eventually ended up on the Serb side in time to take part in the mass slaughter of Srebrenica's Muslims. After the war, a deeply traumatized Erdemovic voluntarily turned himself in to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia you can also read his full testimony in the ICTY online archives. It makes for heartbreaking reading but of course, so too do the testimonies of survivors like Mevludin Orić, who after the murderers' bullets missed him spent hours lying among the corpses of family members and friends before he was finally able to escape.


Besieged: Life Under Fire on a Sarajevo Street
Besieged: Life Under Fire on a Sarajevo Street
by Barbara Demick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An Astonishing Account of Ordinary People's Extraordinary Experiences, 8 April 2013
This is the fascinating true story of 10 families living on one street in Sarajevo, Logavina Street, during the siege. Demick certainly chose a great street - Logavina Street was home to Muslim, Croat and Serb families, including a couple of mixed families. It was also home to one of Sarajevo's most famous Serbs, General Jovan Divjak, a man who identified himself as an `Orthodox Bosnian' and who left the Yugoslav People's Army to defend the city he loved by helping build the fledgling Bosnian Army.

This book provides countless quotidian details about life during the siege as well as detailing the people of Sarajevo's courage, endurance and black humour (for example, one of the bleakest jokes of that bleak time, after the besiegers cut off the gas many Sarajevans relied upon for cooking and heating, was: What's the difference between Sarajevo and Auschwitz? Answer: Auschwitz had gas.) The book also includes siege recipes, for example, for meatless schnitzels (basically, grind up some stale bread, shape it into patties and fry it).

In this edition, Demick returns to Sarajevo in 2011 and catches up with the surviving residents of Logavina Street, as well as offering a sober assessment of Bosnia's future. Throughout the book, Demick's depictions of the people she interviews are sensitive and insightful. Highly recommended.


Goodbye Sarajevo: A True Story of Courage, Love and Survival
Goodbye Sarajevo: A True Story of Courage, Love and Survival
by Atka Reid
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.53

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Two sisters' stories of the war in Bosnia, 8 April 2013
The true story of two sisters separated by the war in Bosnia. 21-year-old Atka stays in Sarajevo during the siege. Because she can speak English, Atka picks up work as a translator for foreign journalists covering the war. Through her work, she meets Andrew Schofield, a New Zealand photojournalist who later becomes her husband. Meanwhile, Atka's 12-year-old sister Hana, evacuated from Sarajevo one month into the war, has to come to terms with life as a refugee in Croatia. Atka and Hana alternate telling their stories chapter by chapter.

This book vividly depicts the heartache of families torn apart by the war, of family members not knowing, sometimes for months at a time, the whereabouts and circumstances of other family members. In one particularly vivid scene, Atka is in New Zealand watching a news report on TV about the latest marketplace bombing in Sarajevo when, to her horror, she glimpses her mother's face amongst the crowd.

Finally, with the help of Andrew's parents, Atka and Hana's family reunites in New Zealand.


HUNTING THE TIGER: The Fast Life and Violent Death of the Balkans' Most Dangerous Man
HUNTING THE TIGER: The Fast Life and Violent Death of the Balkans' Most Dangerous Man
by Christopher S. Stewart
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Stalking Europe's Most Wanted War Criminal, 8 April 2013
Stewart begins his quick-paced, well-researched biography of Zeljko `Arkan' Raznatovię with a lurid account of a train journey the author made through Serbia as a backpacker in 1998. I had to have a bit of a chuckle to myself reading this because he makes the train trip sound so dangerous and the men on the train all read like Chetniks on speed: bearded, filthy, smashed-nosed thugs. But then again, maybe I'm biased - I'm married to a Serb and took a train through Serbia in 1994 myself (yep, during the war, as a solitary 21-year-old female backpacker) and was also hauled off the train in the middle of the night because I did not have a visa. Contrary to Stewart's experience, I was treated with great hospitality: the entire train waited for me while the relevant official was woken up and came out, yawning and blinking sleepily, and stamped my passport. Later, one of the Serb men on the train took off his sweater, folded it up and insisted I use it as a pillow for the duration of the journey! I must have been super-lucky, I know.

Following the train journey prologue, Stewart plunges into Part 1 of the book, which describes Arkan's childhood and early career as Europe's notorious `smiling bank robber', after which Arkan ended up on Interpol's Most Wanted list. Stewart also interviews a former member of the Yugoslav State Security service, the UDBA, who confirms Arkan's role during this period as a hit man for the Yugoslav government.

In Part 2, Stewart details Arkan's return to Yugoslavia, his involvement with the Red Star soccer fans and his formation of what would become his paramilitary group, the Tigers. The most harrowing parts of the book are those in which Stewart describes, through interviews with former members, Arkan and his Tigers' exploits in Vukovar and during the ethnic cleansing of eastern Bosnia. Stewart also covers how, in another abrupt turnaround, Arkan temporarily left the messiness of war to become a suited politician in Kosovo.

Part 3 focuses on Arkan's assassination in a hotel lobby in Belgrade in 2000. In this section, Stewart also interviews Arkan's determinedly disingenuous pop star wife, Ceca, the Madonna of the Balkans, who fell for Arkan, she says, because "I could tell he was a very strong man, and I liked strong men."

One of the most telling descriptions of Arkan in this book comes from a Serb villager saved by Arkan in the early days of the war. He describes how, when Arkan and the Tigers entered the village, he was hungry, in pain, and had just soiled his pants from fear. Then Arkan appeared. "All of us were grateful to him," the villager says. "That man saved us. He is crazy. He is a tsar. He is God. He is Popeye."

So, as the above quote shows, Arkan was to some a hero. But he was also, as Stewart shows, a nightmare to many more. A fascinating tale.


Page: 1